This is a small quotation from an essay written by Brad Warner and posted on Suicide Girls' website. Warner reflects on the film Kumare
The entire essay is well worth a look.
suicidegirls.com/.../Brad-Warners-Hardcore-Zen--Kumara-The-True-Story- Of-A-False-Prophet/ - 36k
"By putting on some orange robes and imitating his grandmother’s Indian accent and mannerisms, Vkram discovered that there are people out there who are willing to believe just about any damned thing as long as it’s spoken by someone who appears to represent some kind of mystical spiritual tradition from the mysterious East. He has them doing air guitar moves and getting little penises drawn on their foreheads. Not only that, he tells them straight up that the thing he’s drawing on their foreheads is a dick and they still let him do it.
(Corboy--something about the Teacher from the Mystical East role elicited so much unconscious material that the people who followed this "Kumare" figure allowed their own boundaries to become porous. They would not have allowed anyone else to do this to them. Its called regression and that is why those in the role of Authority figure have to be so very careful.)
"These are not dumb people either. They are intelligent, educated and sincere. Nor does Vkram try to make them look like fools. Over and over again he takes pains to point out that pretty much anyone could potentially fall for this kind of thing if they were seeking “The Answer” outside of themselves.
(Corboy--very different from the trash talk Bikram reportedly threw out at his students.
Substitute "role of teacher" for "robes".
"putting on those robes can make you act differently. When people start to trust in you, as they trusted in the phony Sri Kumare, any decent person will feel the need to try and be worthy of that trust. This may be why Dogen extolled the virtues of wearing the o-kesa (Zen monks robe), calling it “the great robe of liberation.” "
But those robes can also be a dangerous weapon. Putting on the robe may make a decent person inclined to act more decently. But a less decent person can use its mojo to get all kinds of things like money and sex and power. The movie Kumare only hints at the extent to which one can abuse such power. But the real world provides plenty of examples.
Corboy: I would add something to Brad Warner's observation.
Stepping into the role of authority figure Guru can, by itself
create an a social environment full of permissive, yearning people. This role-driven social environment full of permissive students can trigger all kinds of temptations within a teacher and even inflame alpha male dominance behavior within the teacher.
A test for any teacher is whether he or she throughout a career, takes care to avoid any behavior or props that exaggerate his or her importance.
Just being a teacher is already to occupy a powerful role, especially in relation to yoga.
Though one need not buy into AA, the 12 Traditions offer some discernment guides here.
A lot of things are done to prevent an atmosphere of mystique.
People who gather in 12 Step groups come in wearing ordinary clothing. Whoever guides the meeting (secretary) is in ordinary clothing. And...positions such as secretary and coffee maker and treasurer as well as room set up coordinator--those roles are term limited and at least every 6 months, a general election is held and the postions are taken by others, so that no one person becomes a permanent authority figure.
One can choose a sponsor and change a sponsor at any time.
An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property* and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
(These days property would include intellectual property and trademarking. Turf mentality can inflame attitudes that can be markers for or retrigger addictive craving and addictive behavior--Corboy gloss)
Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.
I am going to print the 12 Traditions below.
*But what I have done was substitute "yoga" for AA and "alcoholic/s" for yogis/yoginis and subsitute "practices" for "still suffers"
The Twelve Traditions--re-written with yoga in mind.
One—Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon yoga unity.
Two—For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
Three—The only requirement for yoga membership is a desire to keep developing ones human capacities.
Four—Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or yoga as a whole.
Five—Each group has but one primary purpose—to carry its message to persons interested in learning about yoga practice..
Six—An yoga group ought never endorse, finance or lend the yoga name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
Seven—Every yoga group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
Eight—Yoga should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
Nine—yoga , as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
Ten—Yoga has no opinion on outside issues; hence the yoga name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
Eleven—Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.
Twelve—Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.
Try and imagine how different the yoga world would appear if it were conducted in this manner.